Step­ping out for chil­dren who have cere­bral palsy

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

10-10-10: It could be a com­pe­ti­tion dance score. It’s bet­ter than that. It’s a 10 kilo­me­tre Lions fundrais­ing walk tak­ing place at 10am on Oc­to­ber 10. Par­tic­i­pants are in­vited to meet un­der the Fitzher­bert Bridge in an ef­fort to raise money for a piece of dis­abil­ity equip­ment called a Hart Walker.

De­vel­oped in the 1980s by Bri­tish med­i­cal engi­neer David Hart, the equip­ment pro­vides hands-free mo­bil­ity and al­lows chil­dren the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence walk­ing, of­ten for the first time.

An­drea and Rikki Crutch­ley know first-hand the ben­e­fits this piece of equip­ment pro­vides. Five years ago, their daugh­ter Ste­vie, now 10, was fit­ted with her own walker, cour­tesy of Kairanga Lions and Steve Par­sons House of Travel.

Ste­vie has a rare form of cere­bral palsy that se­verely lim­its her abil­ity to move in­de­pen­dently. When she is strapped into the walker, which pro­vides her with sta­bil­ity and a sup­port­ive frame, Ste­vie be­comes mo­bile.

It’s quite in­ge­nious,’’ Rikki ex­plains. ‘‘It’s de­signed to pro­mote the cor­rect walk­ing ac­tion. It helps her lung func­tion and mus­cle con­trol. And it grows with her.’’

Sit­ting slumped in a mo­bil­ity chair can cause con­stric­tion of the up­per body. The walker stretches Ste­vie out and is great for her phys­i­cal ther­apy. It ben­e­fits her cir­cu­la­tion, res­pi­ra­tion, di­ges­tive sys­tem, while im­prov­ing bal­ance and co-or­di­na­tion. For Ste­vie, who is main­streamed at Feild­ing’s Manch­ester Street School, it means she can in­ter­act with other chil­dren and en­joy fam­ily and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

It gives Ste­vie the ca­pa­bil­ity to en­joy as near as pos­si­ble, a nor­mal child­hood and the self es­teem that goes with that. An­drea is even pre­par­ing to take her daugh­ter on school camp.

Lo­cal 10-10-10 walk co­or­di­na­tor Jan Kent wants as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble to sup­port New Zealand’s com­bined Lions Clubs Mo­bil­ity Foun­da­tion on Satur­day as they raise funds for other chil­dren like Ste­vie. ‘‘It takes place at the bri­dle track and en­try is sim­ply a gold coin do­na­tion. It’s a fam­ily day. There’ll be a sausage siz­zle, cof­fee cart, wa­ter sta­tions and bouncy castle and peo­ple can walk for as long as they want.’’

Satur­day’s walk is two kilo­me­tres down­stream and then back to the bridge, and three kilo­me­tres up­steam and re­turn. Do­na­tions can be made to West­pac Bank Ac­count No. 03-0389-0760525-00, with de­tails emailed to cmf@li­on­sclubs.org.nz

‘‘It’s de­signed to pro­mote the cor­rect walk­ing ac­tion. It helps her lung func­tion and mus­cle con­trol. And it grows with her. ’’ Rikki Crutch­ley, Ste­vie’s dad, ex­plains the ben­e­fits of the HartWalker

PHOTO: WARWICKSMITH/FAIR­FAX NZ

Ste­vie Crutch­ley’s life has been changed since she re­ceived a Hart Walker from the Kairanga Lions Club five years ago. The $10000 cus­tom-fit­ted piece of equip­ment al­ters to ac­com­mo­date her growth. The Lions are fundrais­ing for more of these walk­ers on the 10-10-10 walk along the river­side bri­dle track this Satur­day.

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